Comment by: Shelby Kail
44 PEPP. L. REV. 1039 (2017)
For many years, DNA databases have helped solve countless serious, violent crimes by connecting low-level offenders to unsolved crimes. Because the passage of Proposition 47 reduced several low-level crimes to misdemeanors, which do not qualify for DNA sample collection, Proposition 47 has severely limited law enforcement’s ability to solve serious, violent crimes through California’s DNA database and reliable DNA evidence. This powerful law enforcement tool must be preserved to prevent additional crimes from being committed, to exonerate the innocent, and to provide victims with closure through conviction of their assailants or offenders. Proposition 47’s unintended consequences have led to devastating costs in the first year alone, including a decreased deterrent effect, a rise in crime rates, and a lack of rehabilitation. The goal of ensuring the safety and security of citizens should remain at the forefront of future actions.
This Comment analyzes the impact Proposition 47 has had and will have on the DNA database in California. Additionally, this Comment examines the history of both state and federal DNA databases, the evolution of California’s DNA database, and case law considering the constitutionality of DNA database programs. Specifically, this Comment assesses the consequences of Proposition 47 and considers different approaches to handling the arising issues. This Comment concludes by summarizing the importance of restoring DNA collection for the low-level crimes Proposition 47 reduced to misdemeanors to ensure the safety and security of California citizens by keeping serious, violent criminals off the streets.